I’m pleased to introduce Kathryn Maeglin’s book and to chat with her about her writing. Kathryn and I ‘met’ virtually through the wonderful, new Women’s Fiction Writer’s Association. If you’re a women’s fiction writer and haven’t run across this group yet, take a look at its new web site here.
Kathryn, an American midwest-based former journalist, now turns her energy to writing fiction. She writes about serious topics, infusing a healthy dose of humor. I think her take from her web site says it best: ‘Life can stink sometimes, and that’s why it helps to view it with a sense of humor. I write books about women facing the realities of life while also taking time out to laugh, learn, and love.’
Her first novel, A Hunka Hunka Nursing Love, won first place in the Women’s Fiction category of the 2012 TARA (Tampa Area Romance Authors) Contest and was published this past June.
Here’s the summary:
Valerie Palka is a savvy businesswoman who is obsessed with keeping her elderly mom, Helen, safe from all the lethal disasters that can befall widows living alone. Helen thinks the workaholic Valerie should focus on having as much luck in the bedroom as she does in the boardroom. But when Helen takes a spill and is rushed to the ER, a handsome male nurse, Keith Nuber, strikes her fancy, and she tells her daughter, “If you could get a handsome devil like that to take care of me, I’d be willing to consider it.” So Valerie creates a care agency, Home Health Hunks, staffed by attractive younger men. Valerie’s idea is filled with potential . . . and potholes. As she navigates the tricky road to satisfying her mom as well as her own ambition, she falls in love with one of her employees–Keith–and learns the true meaning of success.
Thanks, Kathryn, for joining me. I love the premise for your novel. How did the idea come to you?
One of my writing friends and I sometimes email each other about attractive service guys who come to the house, and I think that’s what sparked a comment I made to her once about how, when we’re old ladies, wouldn’t it be nice to have hot male caregivers who make house calls. That offhand comment then blossomed into the story of how one woman dealt with her persnickety aging mom.
Handling the pressures of juggling family, careers, and care for elderly parents is a reality for many women today. Have you had feedback from readers coping with similar demands?
Oh, yes! I suspected this story would strike a chord with many readers, and it certainly has. One reader identified so closely with the book that she said she felt like I had written it about her! Much of the material in this book is drawn from my own experiences dealing with aging loved ones. While everyone’s situation is unique, there are certain commonalities to which most of us can relate.
I know you’re a breast cancer survivor. Did your experience work its way into this novel?
A little bit, yes. I think we’re all products of our own histories, and it’s inevitable a traumatic event will affect what we create. Having a brush with death certainly makes you view life differently! My next book will actually address that subject more directly, since the protagonist is a breast cancer survivor.
What is your writing process? Do you belong to critique groups, or have friends who read your work?
I started out writing on my own and using friends as beta readers. Then I got involved with Romance Writers of America since I thought my first book was a romantic comedy. Turns out it was actually women’s fiction, but being a member of RWA was still very helpful for learning craft and the business side of being a writer. I met some critique partners via my local RWA chapter, and they’re still my critique partners and have been hugely helpful.
Congratulations! I know that this novel placed first in the 2012 TARA Contest. What did you learn in the process? Did it help with publication?
I learned I was on the right track! Chapter contests such as the TARA are very helpful because they often provide the kind of valuable feedback you can only get from complete strangers. When you start approaching editors and agents, they won’t know you from Adam, so they will judge your writing based solely on the quality of that writing. I do think that contest win helped me attract the attention of my publisher.
So much is changing within the publishing industry today, and authors are expected to actively promote their work. How do you handle marketing and promotion, presence on social media, etc?
I’ve done a little bit of many things: guest blog posts such as this one, promoting via Facebook and Twitter, seeking reviews, advertising, etc. The marketing strategy that has worked best for me so far was offering the book for free on Amazon for a couple of days and then advertising that on BookBub. I got more than 23,000 downloads over those two days. Now the hope is that those readers will like the book enough to engage in the best marketing tool of all time: word of mouth.
Any advice or lessons learned along the way to share with writers?
Read; write; seek honest feedback and take what is useful while leaving the rest; NEVER give up; and chocolate contains antioxidants, which have been scientifically proven to improve your writing.
What are you working on now?
As mentioned earlier, it’s a novel about a breast cancer survivor who becomes obsessed with doing everything on her bucket list — including finding Mr. Right — and her “f**k-it” list, meaning things she’s been reluctant to do because of what others might think.
To purchase Kathryn’s novel:
To follow Kathryn:
Author website www.kathrynmaeglin.com/